Words by Emma Connell
July 22nd, 2016
The quest for perfect, air-brushed skin is a task that millions of people worldwide uptake, myself included. In spite of this, many of us are still plagued by skin concerns with Acne being the most common skin disease in the world. Paired with dry, flaky skin, sensitivities and sun damage, it seems that flawless skin is reserved only for the genetically blessed models that grace the covers of magazines. Or so I used to think. Blemish-free skin is not only attainable, it also achievable with a bit of determination and by arming yourself with the correct knowledge.
Despite millions of people suffering from Acne it still remains to be a frustrating topic that can be quite hard to resolve. As everyone is unique, it can be difficult to determine what exactly is at the root of this pesky problem for each individual, with a long list of culprits such as stress, hormones, bad diet or medications being pointed the blame.
Having suffered from Acne for most of my teenage years and into my early twenties, I figure I know a fair few things about dealing with this troublesome topic. Years of living with overly oily skin, a crepey textured forehead (which gave my skin the appearance of a 90-year-old woman), sore spots and a constant sheet of bumps on my face were bound to take its toll on my skin, not to mention my confidence.
Although my skin has, thankfully, resolved itself now after a lengthy battle of tiresome trips to various dermatologists, painful treatments and a long list of strong drugs that truly take a toll on your skin for better or for worse, I am quite certain that if I had followed the regime that I do today I could have prevented the issue from arising in the first place, or at least been able to manage it. With the combination of a healthy diet, good sleep pattern, and above all an effective skin care regime I strongly believe that all skin afflictions can be helped and in some cases resolved. And so, I have put together a basic skin care guide to help everyone achieve the skin of their dreams.
I cannot stress enough how important this is to your skin’s overall appearance. Whether or not you suffer from the occasional pimple or full blown acne, knowing whether your skin is oily, dry or in between enables you to pick the products that are suitable for you which will in turn help alleviate any problems. Do not be fooled into thinking that only oily skin types can get acne- even dry skin can be plagued by it. And so, I’ve devised a quick guide to help you pinpoint which category you fall into.
If you find your face resembling an oil slick by 12pm every day then your skin most likely falls under this category. Oily skin types are most prone to suffering from Acne due to the overproduction of sebum throughout the day. This can lead to blocked pores, white heads and inflammatory cystic acne. To combat the oil use a scrub once a week that contains salicylic or glycolic acid. I use Jan Marini Resurfacing Body Scrub which helps to clear the build up of oil and dead skin cells in clogged pores, or Pixi Glow Tonic which is an excellent toner for eliminating excess oil on a daily basis. While oily skin can be frustrating it tends to age better than drier skin types as the oils help to moisturise the skin which is always a bonus!
This is the in-between category. Combination skin relates to those who have a mixture of both oily and dry patches. Most commonly you will find that it is the T-zone that is oily while the cheeks are generally dry. Try combat this type skin with an oil-free moisturiser. La Roche Posay’s Toleraine range includes great moisturisers and cleansers which soothe the skin without disrupting its natural oil balance.
If you have this skin type you are one of the lucky ones and also in the minority. Your skin is neither overly oily or dry but perfectly balanced. You can get away with using most products on your skin.
If your skin feels rather tight or rough on a frequent basis and is prone to flakiness then you fit in the dry category. Dry skin is more commonly prone to eczema or a flushing of the skin (although this can happen with oily skin but less frequently). Combat the dryness with oil-based moisturisers or facial oils and an acid toner which will gently exfoliate and help to calm down any acne. Use Kiehls Daily Reviving Concentrate to add a glow to the skin or pop Clinique’s Moisture Surge Mask on at night to optimise moisture absorption. Products that contain hyaluronic acid are your best friend.
Increase your consumption of vegetables and fruit as a diet rich in vitamins and minerals is vital in achieving a glowing complexion. In particular, vitamin B is vital for the structure and growth of your skin, hair and nails, vitamin A is essential for repairing your skin, while vitamins C and E aid in protecting your skin from harmful sun exposure.
As everyone is aware, water is crucial not only for your skin’s health but also your body’s overall wellbeing as it assists with eliminating harmful toxins from your system. When skin is dehydrated it becomes dry and tight which leads to a rather flaked texture on the skin and fine lines become more pronounced. Try to drink at least 8 glasses of water a day to help stay hydrated. If you find water bland add slices of cucumber, orange or lemon to add some flavour. Where possible, opt for herbal teas instead of caffeinated drinks to optimise your water intake.
For your skin to repair itself it needs at least 7-8 hours of quality rest every night. Lack of shut eye leads to skin appearing dull, dry and tired, and it also causes blood vessels under your skin to dilate which leads to dark circles forming under the eyes. Particularly for Acne sufferers, aim to change your pillow at least once a week to prevent bacteria harbouring. Opt for cotton covers to keep your head nice and cool while you sleep. If you have trouble nodding off, try Melissa Dream Lemon Balm supplements or use a few drops of essential lavender oil in the bath or on your pillow to ease you into your slumber.
The importance of wearing a daily SPF cannot be overlooked no matter what type of skin you have. Sunscreen protects your skin from harmful UVA and UVB rays which can cause permanent skin damage and diseases, cancer being one. By wearing an SPF you are dramatically reducing the risk of developing skin cancer. Although you do not see the benefits of wearing one now, your older self will thank you. Doing so will protect yourself from brown spots, fine lines, leathered-looking skin and a general loss of elasticity within the texture of your skin. Remember to wear an SPF even when the sun is covered by clouds as the harmful rays can still penetrate through to your skin.
As I have combination to oily skin I would shy away from using a thick SPF as this will likely block my pores. I use Avene Ultra Light Hydrating Sunscreen which helps protect my skin yet doesn’t cause a surge of breakouts. If that doesn’t suit try Clarins Multi Protection Broad Spectrum SPF 50 for a lightweight feel that dries matte in seconds which is ideal for wearing underneath your foundation.
These 5 steps are vital in achieving and most importantly maintaining healthy, beautiful skin. If you have any skincare tips that you would like to share then let us know in the comment section below.
Enjoying the sun a little too much? Find out the top products to repair sun damaged skin here.
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